By Matt Johnson, Residential Lettings Manager
It is with great pride that at Garness Jones Residential we can say that despite all the pressures which have been placed upon both landlords and tenants this year, our team at has not encountered a single case where relations between landlords and tenants have broken down.
There have been reports suggesting that thousands of renters could lose their homes when the Government ban on landlords evicting tenants is lifted later this month, with many UK landlords complaining that they have been left ‘powerless’ to tackle mounting rent arrears related since the Covid-19 outbreak.
However, despite us managing hundreds of properties across Hull and the East Riding, we don’t have a single case where forced eviction is being considered.
Yes, we have many cases where tenants are now behind on their rental payment commitments, but crucially, arrangements have been made on a basis of understanding and trust between ourselves, the tenants and the landlords.
Agreements over lower and deferred payments have been established, based on evidence of financial hardship produced by tenants, with clear plans in place as to how any shortfalls will be repaid to the landlords over time.
Finding the right tenants for the right properties is key
I am sure many agencies and private landlords will be re-evaluating their approach to the lettings market in the wake of all that has happened in 2020.
We have always been dedicated to finding the right residents for our landlords, balancing out the need to fill properties as quickly as possible with the need to find reliable and responsible tenants.
I know of many agencies and private landlords who have taken on new tenants with no deposits required up front. This is not an approach we like to take, or advise our landlords to adopt.
We make no excuses for having a very clear and established vetting process of tenants which sees us almost always require a deposit and month’s rent in advance. If a tenant isn’t able to make that financial commitment at the start, what does it say about their ability, or reliability, to continue paying rent five or six months later?
Also, if a tenant has paid no deposit at all, it can then be very hard at the end of their tenancy to try and recover any costs related to damages, lost items, or even rent arrears.
At Garness Jones Residential, we make no bones about being committed to first and foremost supporting landlords and we certainly sympathise with those who have found themselves in a situation where thousands of pounds of rent remains unpaid, with no guarantee of ever being able to recover those losses.
It is certainly the case that some landlords could be in situations where they have already had no rent for six months, and then still face another six months without income as tenants sit out their newly extended eviction notice period.
After that there is still the court process to follow, before landlords are finally able to get their property back in their hands to either re-let or perhaps sell. They could easily be £5,000 to £6,000 down on an average rent for our region, and even more in areas of the country which command much higher monthly prices.
Landlords left in that position will need greater Government support in time, but importantly, they may need to adopt a new strategy going forward.
Whilst of course the vast majority of residents will genuinely have been unable to meet rent demands, there will certainly be some who have pleaded poverty when they have been in a position to pay, having received furlough payments and seen living costs fall during lockdown.
It is why we remain committed to developing solid, three-way relationships, with ourselves as the go-between for landlords and tenants. Finding the middle ground is always the best in situations where both parties are suffering.
Understanding and transparency can help avoid conflict
Throughout this very unusual year, we have worked hard to ensure there is complete transparency between all parties. The landlord has to understand the tenant, the tenant must understand the landlord.
I said our priority was to our landlords, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t do our all to best represent and support tenants too.
One example we have is a tenant who was in his first year of being self-employed and had been earning a very good wage when taking on his rental property.
Unfortunately, lockdown brought his business, and income, to a standstill, and he was unable to claim Government grants which have been made available to other self-employed people who have traded for at least three years.
He simply couldn’t afford his rent, but when we explained his situation to the landlord, a new payment plan was established.
The landlord had the confidence to be flexible because we’d carried out substantial checks at the start of the letting on this tenant, and because we are able to demonstrate that the tenant will be able to increase his earnings again as he steps his business back up.
Understanding and transparency has been key to supporting landlords and tenants through challenging times, and it will continue to be so moving forward as more people face difficulties as the impact of Covid-19 continues to ripple through the economy.
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